28th June, 2022
By Yahaya Isah
Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, said the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCoS) is still searching for 3,906 inmates that escaped during attacks on correctional centres in Edo.
About 4,369 inmates escaped from the centres in 2020, following attacks by gunmen.
However, the minister added that only 984 had been rearrested.
Aregbesola stated this at the opening of a two-day retreat for senior management of the service in Sokoto State.
He said the strategies and deliberations at the retreat should be centred around solutions for recapturing all escaped inmates to safeguard communities.
The minister expressed displeasure over the negative impact of the #EndSARS protests which later turned violent leading to attacks on custodial facilities, hence the rise in the attacks on facilities.
”Retreats are for bonding, contemplating purpose and setting future goals. Therefore, the major issue that must be considered during this retreat is the de-congestion of custodial facilities,” he said.
He recalled that during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the policies, quickly put in place then, was the de-congestion programme under which thousands of inmates were released on compassionate grounds.
“The follow-up to that is the consideration that we should find further ways to keep de-congesting our facilities. We started work on the idea of compiling the list of convicted inmates serving light terms for not too serious offences, who were in custody because they could not pay their fines.”
Aregbesola commended the service for being able to manage the centres during the pandemic without recording a single infection.
He added that the agency did a good job of keeping the virus away and must continue to keep the facilities safe and sound from inside and outside.
The minister urged that as the officers deliberate, strategise and set targets for the next five years, it must ensure that the bio-data of all inmates were harmonised with sister agencies
This, he said, such as the Nigeria Financial Unit (NFIU), all banks and the INTERPOL to track all escaped inmates.
“It is also very important to have their fingerprints, pictures and other details you have with you to be harmonised with them.”
Meanwhile, Aregbesola said the federal government has biometrics of all custodial inmates in the country, and they have collaborated with the International Police (INTERPOL).
Aregbesola said: “How long can they continue to run from the state? The state is a patient bird. You can run, but you can never hide.
“We have their biometrics. Whenever and wherever they appear to transact any business, their cover will be blown.”